One of the key witnesses in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election just fled the country, according to a report in the UK’s Daily Mail.
George Nader, the Lebanese-American businessman who was subpoenaed last month on his way to Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort and who subsequently agreed to cooperate in the investigation, has reportedly flown to the United Arab Emirates after that country’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ), intervened with American officials to allow Nader freedom to travel.
Nader has been a top advisor to the UAE and is of interest to Mueller because of his involvement in two key meetings that the Special Counsel is looking into.
The first is a meeting Nader organized at Trump Tower in December of 2016 between Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, and Crown Prince bin Zayed. That meeting was controversial since the Trump transition team never told the Obama White House or the State Department about the meeting in a glaring breach of protocol for meetings with foreign leaders.
Even more pertinent to Mueller’s investigation is Nader’s role in a set of meetings in the Seychelles that counted billionaire Blackwater founder Erik Prince (the brother of education secretary Betsy DeVos), bin Zayed, and Kirill Dmitriev, a Russian oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, among the attendees.
Prince testified under oath to Congress that the meeting with the Russian oligarch was just a chance encounter in a hotel bar, but Nader is supposed to have told the Special Counsel that he orchestrated the entire trip to the Seychelles to set up a secret communications back channel between Russia and the Trump transition team.
The Dail Mail quotes another source close to the Emirati royal family as saying that MBZ is anxious to know what the Special Counsel asked his top adviser.
“George is back in the UAE, though I thought he’d be too scared to go there,” said the source. ‘The fact that he’s gone back there means he’s obviously not worried. But MBZ is going to want to see him and know what he told the special counsel.”
Nader is apparently caught between a rock and a hard place, worried about how his Emirati employer will respond to the disclosures he made to Mueller and still under subpoena by the Special Counsel’s team.
Hopefully, Mueller has asked already asked Nader everything he needs to know about the meetings since now that Nader has fled the country, there’s no guarantee that he will be coming back anytime soon.
Complicating Nader’s situation is the revelation that he has been convicted on charges of pedophilia and child pornography in both the U.S. and the European Union, a fact that was leaked last week in what Nader’s lawyer called an attempt to intimidate his client into silence. The lawyer said that the attempt won’t work and that “Mr. Nader will continue to answer truthfully questions put to him by the special counsel.”
Nader’s relations with the Trump administration were quite close before his cooperation with Mueller. He has described former chief strategist Steve Bannon as his “best friend” and visited him frequently in the White House before Bannon was fired,
Curiouser and curiouser. Stay tuned for new developments.